Photos and memories

In my mind, imagery is inexplicably linked to memories.  If I think about something or someone in the past, it comes alive when I have an image to associate that with. And photos make them even more real.

My mom has always taken a lot of photos of our family, and I have too… although not ever as much as the last few years.  In fact every year that I’ve designed our annual family photobook, it’s got bigger.  This year I’ve designed a whopper of a book… it’s ended up being 92 pages and it’s a 30x30cm book! Not small by any stretch of the imagination.  I ordered it today, so I’ll blog about it properly when I get it… but here’s one page as a teaser.

Now here’s the thing… this album for a change has got quite a few photos of me in it.  I’ve learnt over the last few years that being in the photos and not just taking them, is just so important. The sad thing is, there’s only ONE image of the four of us in my entire collection of thousands of images taken during last year! ONE!! And there isn’t one of me and my parents together!  Or my kids and my parents together!

That’s horrific!

But anyway, that’s actually not what I was going to talk about tonight.  It was something related, but that clearly needed to get out of my head so there you have it.

What was on my mind was the following… and yes it is related…

The best part about being a photographer is being able to watch how people interact with each other and to try and capture that in some way.  I love that Laura said a few days ago on Facebook that the photos I took at her wedding made her emotional… it means that I got her wedding right.

My frustration as a photographer is that sometimes I don’t have the time to actually get that emotional connection right… or to capture the person/people properly… but I’m hoping I get that right most of the time.  Although I do have to say that at the end of the last summer when I was getting so tired, I knew I needed a break because I was trying too hard.

Now I’m rambling, but capturing it right is so important to me.

Let me explain. Because I do all my marketing via word of mouth, and therefore social media, I do end up getting connected to my clients and/or sometimes their families and friends via some kind of social media site (either blogging or Twitter or Facebook). And because that happens, inevitably I do keep up somewhat connected to my clients’ life stories after the photoshoot ends.

I’ve been capturing other people’s stories for the last 5 years, which is not a very long time. But during that time, I can tell you the following stories about what’s happened since I’ve taken a family’s portraits… and it makes me realise just how important photography really is:

  • One family rescheduled their shoot one day because they ended up being too busy… the father died the next week and I ended up taking photos of the funeral instead (I only ever did that once because she was a work colleague and I won’t ever do that again).  On a happy note, I did take photos of the wife’s re-marriage the next year and I know the new family unit are very happy.
  • A few months after a family shoot with 2 tweens where I took photos of the 2 girls jumping and running, they were both diagnosed with childhood arthritis, and the older sister is now in a wheelchair.
  • A most amazing little boy that I took photos of as part of a huge family shoot died… and the photos I took were used at his funeral.
  • A little girl got some rare cancer after I took her photos … and I’ve lost track of that story so I have no idea how she’s doing now

Anyway, those are the sad stories… and not all of them. I read a note on Facebook posted by the sister of a groom, who’s wedding I photographed earlier this year and she wrote about the struggle he’s had with his health since the wedding, and that was the trigger for this post actually… it’s not my place to name names and to link to their stories directly because they’re not really my stories to tell.

My story is the way that I feel about the photos I take.

On my other screen right now, is a photoshoot that I’m busy editing, and thinking all these things tonight is making me take more care in the way that I handle their memories.

I’m not just taking photos.

I’m not just capturing stories in images.

I’m creating memories.

I’m preserving life stories.

**updated to link to Liezel’s blog post about her brother. It is in Afrikaans… make a plan to read it and you’ll understand why I wrote this post.

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14 Responses to Photos and memories

  1. Liézel Els September 4, 2013 at 6:20 am #

    Beautiful Jenty and I think you’ve explained it well. As photographers, I think it’s always important to do the job because we love it, not because we have to do it. The people in our photos are people and all people in this world are so fragile that it actually scares me.

    Life changes so quickly, as we learnt… First with my dad and then with my brother. It happens so quickly that it literally knocks the wind out of you and you can’t breath. We have this one large print of Corne and Joanne’s wedding in our lounge, and while all the drama was unfolding, the diagnosis, the surgeries, the weeks of recovery, we would walk past that photo and it would just pull you in. It’s a photo of the happiest day of his life and here I stand, fearing for his life.

    Keep doing what you’re doing Jenty, capturing love, life, memories – in the end, it’s all that really matters.


  2. Angel September 4, 2013 at 6:45 am #

    You absolutely do capture memories!
    My wedding album is paged through every other week, and I fear I may start leaving marks on the pages! 🙂
    Unfortunately I don’t have hooks on the walls in our new house, but a picture you took of our Nathan hangs on one of two existing hooks in our living room. I look at it every single day.
    On the other hook in the living room is a picture of my knucklehead from our family shoot with you in 2009.

    I too do not have many images of my knucklehead and I together as I was always the one taking the pictures as he grew up, and I wish I had more.

  3. Karen at MomAgain@40 September 4, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Love this post! Great one for the importance of photographers – capturing those very special moments.

    I also need to focus more on getting photos of all of us together, with me in it as well! 😀

  4. Nicole du Toit September 4, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    Wow!!! Stunning post and VERY true!!!!

  5. Jessica Giggles September 4, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Wow! I had always considered photos as capturing memories but the way you’ve explained it really elaborates on this. I’m glad you put so much effort into how you take pics, how you edit them, etc. After all, the pics are the only things left when the memories are not so strong.

  6. Avril (Mom) September 4, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Lovely post my girl ! Capturing those special moments are the only things we have left, except what’s in our hearts, but the photographs brings those images back to life again.

    As one who has always taken photographs of our family, there are not many of me either, which is so sad (I’m hoping you children wont forget what I looked like when I was a young mom 🙁 ) Not many of me, my parents and brothers – not a single one I don’t recall!

    Can’t wait to see your family album filled with happy memories which you will treasure forever mwah xxx

    • Jenty September 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      And you can get one… there’s a special offer running at my printing company, so I’m getting 2 mini albums for free too 😉

  7. shayne September 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I never thought I would be as passionate about taking photo’s as I am now. I am still learning, in fact, I have a lot to still learn, but the few shoots I have done, are still talked about and I was told the other day that one of the maternity pics is the best another photog has ever seen.

    And I see with my Project Life, just how my kids love going through my albums and remembering the story behind the photo. So very important.

    So keep on capturing and doing an incredibly awesome job!

  8. Gerda September 4, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

    So very true. Also loved the link you posted earlier this week about believing we are too fat or ugly for pics, and then missing the memories altogether! My sister passed away a few years ago, unexpectedly of a lung embolism. I saw her a couple of weeks before that, as we took the kids to the Montecasino bird gardens. When I went through the pics we took that day, there were not a single one of her. No picture of two sisters spending some time together. Only pictures of the kids.
    It was a wake up for me. She shied away from the cameras those last few years when she couldn’t lose the pregnancy weight. And now her small kids had very few memories to remind them of the mom they knew.
    I am trying to ignore the fact that I look dorky to myself in pictures. It’s definitely more important to collect the memories!

  9. Marcia (123 blog) September 4, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    I love, love, love this post!

    That’s exactly it – preserving memories too. Sadly, my brain remembers things better if there’s a photo. E.g. I’ll remember something because I know I have photos of it!

    If we’re ever together and your kids/ hubby are also there, I will ask for your camera and take a pic of you WITH them, okay? 🙂

    • Jenty September 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      Definitely a good plan Marcia 🙂
      I should really book a proper family shoot with someone

  10. shebee September 5, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    This post really hit home for me. Photos are all I chose to keep of my daughter, and they are so very dear to me.

    More especially, this post also reinforced why you’re the best photographer I’ll ever know, and I cannot wait to have you shoot special events in my life for years to come.

    Great post!

  11. Mrs FF September 5, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    Lovely post. And it is so true.

    Love the picture of C and his dad, very very nice

  12. Michelle September 6, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Love these photos and looks like they had fun too.